Caught In a Satire

November 11th, 2010 § 2 comments

The day began at two o’clock in the morning, when I woke after a few hours of sleep, dressed, and made my way to the Port Authority. My bus was scheduled to leave at 3:45 am, and a long line of sleepy, restless twenty something’s waiting for a similar bus to Washington D.C. welcomed me at the station. I know bus stations, and I know that lines for buses are like queues in Europe, where there is no guilt in cutting and no shame in pushing. The redemptive quality of buses is that there are usually more of them than people who want to ride them. This morning was an exception everyone was prepared for except the bus companies. There was no Arianna Huffington to greet our sleepy line, but we were able to wait indoors unlike the Megabus riders. I met one rider in line who realized, after a small tantrum and some puzzled glances at people holding signs, that he had picked a very unfortunate morning to travel to D.C. After three hours of waiting and a certain amount of mutiny, I was able to look backward into the station, still full of upset travelers left temporarily stranded, from the safety of my seat aboard a bus I wasn’t supposed to be on, and hadn’t really bought a ticket for. It was the chaotic beginning of a frustrating but thought provoking day.

» Read the rest of this entry «

The First Time in a Long Time

October 15th, 2010 § 0 comments

pacific coast highway

Place, where we live, how we live, and why, is an old and favorite topic of interest. Not long after leaving California for Chicago, I realized that while I might never move back to the west coast, it was inescapably the place I am from. These undesired or unavoidable connections, between the place we come from and the places we move to, affect us as much as family ties, even if we talk less about them. For better or worse it is the place we are from, more than the places we move to, that shapes our initial perspective like early parental teachings or our varied experiences of grade school education. Living elsewhere forces (rather than allows) you to recognize that there are people you understand, a landscape with which you feel familiar, and a culture you might not like but are never baffled by, existing with or without you in that place you left. Living in different cities for two or three years at a time reminds me of the first two years you spend in college, fulfilling the “general education” requirements of any degree. Who really knows what classes or subjects they like or dislike until a little bit of everything has been tried? I never moved planning to love or hate anyplace, because I didn’t have much in the way of expectations—that it would be “different” from the place I was leaving was the only given, and the only real constant of travel. I knew each place would be interesting, however, and certain a kind of indifference, such as blatant curiosity, is sometimes a good way to get a neutral perspective. Honestly, what do we know about where we might want to live in our early, mid, or late twenties?

» Read the rest of this entry «

Published—Just Kids

September 9th, 2010 § 0 comments

Patti Smith

While it was a wonderfully warm summer, perfect for lazy beach days and long bike rides around the city, it was a dull summer for art. The usual museum blockbusters were not interesting, and the gallery scene was even worse. Judging from the number of guest hosts we were subjected to this summer on NPR, everyone either left the city or stayed home and deliberately forgot about their daily obligations. I certainly didn’t feel obligated to do much in the way of research, which opened up a lot of time for recreation, but left my writing in the lurch. Whitehot began publishing book reviews this year around the same time I began working my way through Patti Smith’s Just Kids, one train trip at a time. Impressed by the book, enamored with Patti Smith, and unable to find any gallery show worth writing about, I undertook my first book review. Books, I found out, are hard to summarize while elaborating on and analyzing their content. It’s easy to get lost in them, as there is so much you could say, so many different directions you could go in. With the new gallery season revving up, with openings beginning this week and going into the next, and with the first glimmer of interest returning to the museums—Lee Friedlander’s America by Car opening at the Whitney and Fred Tomaselli’s paintings opening at the Brooklyn Museum—I am glad I took the opportunity to write about an artist rather than art.

Robert Mapplethorpe

The Dancemaker Turns Eighty

August 13th, 2010 § 0 comments

If you’ve never seen Paul Taylor himself dance, you’re missing something amazing. He’s tall and imposing, graceful and yet full of an athletic, masculine power. Watching clips from the beginning of his career in the 1960s, he fills the stage, literally and metaphorically, with a presence so captivating you can’t look away. In Taylor’s heyday as a dancer, which he spent growing away from the long shadow cast by Martha Graham, modern dance was not about storytelling like the classic fairy tales retold in timeless succession by ballet companies. Modern dance seemed more interested in experimenting with what else dance could communicate. Beginning with difficult choreography that confused and upset critics and viewers alike—such as his five minute dance in which no one moved—Taylor somehow found a way through abstraction to a kind of conceptual dance that, unlike Merce Cunningham, feels as natural as social dancing, street dancing, or our predilection for drunken capering. His choreography doesn’t look as though it should feel so accessible, we should struggle harder to watch his dances, but the way he understands our everyday movements makes his choreography uniquely enjoyable. Watching Taylor you get the sense that something important is being expressed, but exactly what remains something of a mystery.

young paul taylor

» Read the rest of this entry «

The Death of a Producer

July 27th, 2010 § 1 comment

pride & prejudiceWhile pondering who might be the current audience for foreign films about familial drama, I found myself wondering why is that the intricate narrative of family life is considered to be a female form of entertainment. Like those books girls read as teenagers—Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Mrs. Dalloway—that boys (and later men) are sure to dismiss, understanding the treacherous but fascinating web of family is of interest only to us. What is most frustrating in a post feminist society is not that our contributions are still dismissed, undervalued, and exploited. These problems in the late 20th and 21st century have taken on a good bit of elasticity, in that we are less dismissed, undervalued, and exploited. The problem for my generation of women is one of interest, or what seems to be a shocking inequality of it. While most women enjoy the tastes and interests of men, after centuries of having no choice, so little effort is made by men to enjoy the tastes and interests of women. In the case of filmmaking it could be said that our stories, and the perspective from which we tell them, might receive the proper critical attention—Bright Star, The Hurt Locker, Lost In Translation—but they also garner unnecessary anger and more often complete indifference from mass audiences. Preferring anger, the disinterest is a stinging snub with a subtext of, we don’t think you make bad films because we won’t even watch them. Less than nine percent of directors in Hollywood today are women, and if their movies go unwatched, be they about poetry, war, or intimacy, should we be fighting for more representation or more interest? Obviously both.

» Read the rest of this entry «